LBA invades land of ‘the Gator’

By Jack Hammill - Guest Columnist

It will always be the land of the ‘Gator’ to many of the locals of not only Bluffton but also the Lima Bowling Association. It is the house that the Daileys built and that the Dailey led Gators “refined.”

This past weekend, beginning with a qualifying round on Friday and two more such rounds on Saturday and then match-play on Sunday it was at best simply visited by members 80 plus members of the Lima Bowling Association.

It was about a little over a month ago that current proprietor Derek Dukes suggested that Nathan Cheney and Alyssa Maag could each claim tourney titles, Maag in the ‘B’ Division and Cheney in the ‘A’. He was at least half right as on Sunday afternoon, Cheney did eliminate Kari Miller in the finale of the ‘A’ his first LBA title. Maag had attempted to qualify for the match-play portion on Friday evening but failed to make the grade and it seemed to leave the very personal Maag in the ‘dumps’ for the weekend.

Delong and Mike Bess would battle in the final round of the B Division to an actual 215-215 tie but Bess would win out with the benefit of the pins that he actualized in the handicap nature of the event.

Earlier in the match-play he handed defeat to two relative newbies of the LBA bowling world Jesse and Kristi Owsley. It was probably for the good of the day that he eliminated this duo as in the words of Kristi it could have gotten ugly if Jesse had knocked her from the tournament.

We will have more on this duo when we discuss the culture of Southgate Lanes in another week or so from fish hanging on walls to the words of Jesse that it is like ‘Cheers’ where everybody knows your name.

Delong exited the building pretty quick so it gave me some extra time with Cheney!

He was humbly impressed that Dukes had expressed confidence in him a month earlier. He was not even sure if he could or should bowl as late as Thursday of deadline week.

“My girlfriend, Heidi Waidelich’s parents were coming to town and we really wanted to spend sometime with them! It worked out, they decided to come and were able to watch me bowl today and still have time with us.”

One would have to wonder what impact if any that it might have on the match with Miller.

“I was really pretty nervous!” said, the Bluffton Postal employee. “I am only bowling one night a week making it hard to guess how things would go. Thankfully everything worked out for the best.”

The day had a little déjà vu to it for two of the competitors. It was just last year that Miller rolled against Bob Edwards in the elimination round at Norada Lanes in Ada with Edwards taking the honors. This season it was Miller who reversed the fortune, with the assist of a stubborn six pin that would not fall for Edwards.

The Hall of Fame duo would have to roll an additional game to determine the outcome of this initial match and it also went to the final frame before Miller was able to advance.

Cheney had a similar battle with Nate Davis, who he quickly praised.

“Fortunately I bowled well enough to advance. He had a good lead over me [46 pins, according to Nate] but I was both lucky and able to come back and win. It was a great battle and set me up in first for the step-ladder.”

Miller had a chance to breathe following the extra game match with Edwards and watch the match between Jim Thorbin and Tyler Phillips.

Phillips has been on fire in recent weeks and this past week rolled his third perfect game of the season. Thorbin is a solid competitor but on this day he did not have an answer for Tyler.

The stepladder match between Phillips and Miller started out to make one believe that Miller also would not be able to handle the two-hander on this day as well.

Phillips opened with five consecutive strikes before leaving a four pin, a six pin, two more four pins and a ten pin over his last five frames. Miller became as intense as the Storm Intense that she was rolling and finished with strikes from the fourth frame through the first ball in the tenth for a 257-235 victory.

The match between Cheney and Miller began with Miller opening with a 4-6- 7 and the new champ striking in four of the first six frames. There were moments that it seemed that Miller could recover but a late game missed ten pin and double by Cheney sealed things for the win, 211-172.

The more we spoke the less that Cheney sounded like the biggest hillbilly in the LBA, mounted fish or not.

“I owe a lot to Derek and to Bean, Brandon Falk. It was Derek that drilled the ball that I used today, a Storm IQ and has helped me so much with my game. He again did a great job of getting me lined up. He knows so much about the game. I really need to give him a salute for all he has done for me and the bowlers here.”

But what of Bean? “ Brandon and I have known each other since we were about eight, he was the one that got me started in the game. If not for him I would not be here today.

The final standings in the A was Cheney, Miller, Phillips, Thorbin, Edwards, Jimmie Ebeling, Brent Jones and Davis.

In the B Division it was Delong, Bess, Jesse Owsley, Kristi Owsley, Jil Wolber, Amanda Moyer, Dylan Twining and Shannon Moore.

Like I said it was just another great day at Bluffton’s Southgate Lanes, the place that the Daileys built. There will be lots more to come.

By Jack Hammill

Guest Columnist

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